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Italy to follow Germany in dumping Kaspersky

Kaspersky's claims to be reliable fall on deaf ears as more countries ditch Russian-made cybersecurity software.

Italy's public sector will be instructed to replace Russian antivirus software to prevent disruption of services, a draft decree seen by Reuters says.

Last week, Germany's cyber watchdog, BSI, warned against using Kaspersky antivirus amidst Russia's threats against the EU and NATO.

Italy's decision came after the country's data regulator started a probe into potential privacy risks connected to using the software provided by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.

Russia's war in Ukraine increased fears of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in the EU as retaliation for Western sanctions aimed at curbing Moscow's aggression.

Italy's regulatory body asked Kaspersky to provide the number and the nature of its customers in the country and clarify how its tools process personal data, including whether these are made available to foreign governments.

Kaspersky told Reuters on Thursday that it was a privately-managed company with no ties to the Russian government and said it risked suffering from decisions based on geopolitics rather than real technical concerns.

Eugene Kaspersky, the creator of the software, refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, hacktivists and journalists cast doubts on Kasperky's said neutrality.

Recently, Cybernews has learned that Kaspersky Lab is protecting the resources of the Russian Ministry of Defense and other high-value domains that are instrumental to the Russian propaganda machine.

In a recommendation last week, the Italian state cybersecurity agency said there was no evidence products provided by companies linked to Russia had been compromised since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

However, similarly to what the German cyber watchdog said, Italian authorities warned that risks needed to be reassessed amid the growing conflict and that antivirus software was particularly sensitive due to the "high level of invasiveness" of the systems they serve.

Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky.

Kaspersky: war isn't good for anyone

Reacting to BSI's decision Kaspersky issued a statement claiming the decision was not based on technical assessment of the company's products and made on political grounds.

"Kaspersky is a private global cybersecurity company and, as a private company, does not have any ties to the Russian or any other government," the company said.

Kaspersky claims that its data processing infrastructure was relocated to Switzerland in 2018 while files for German users are handled in two data centers located in Zurich.

Both of which, the company claims, were deemed safe by third-party assessments through the SOC 2 Audit conducted by a 'Big Four' auditor, and through the ISO27001 certification and recent re-certification by TÜV Austria.

"We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts. War isn't good for anyone," the company added.

Refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Russian invasion

On the night of February 24, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin dubbed the aggression a 'special operation,' and calling the attack a 'war' can lead to a 15-year sentence.

In light of the attack, the hacker community started rallying to help Ukrainians. With Anonymous being the most prominent one, numerous hacker groups and researchers partake in various campaigns to help Ukraine.

Cyber activists targeted Russian state-controlled media outlets TASS, Kommersant, Izvestia, Fontanka, and RBC, pushing them offline.

Russian nuclear agency Rosatom and the country's space agency Roscosmos were allegedly breached by hacktivists protesting the war in Ukraine.

The German branch of the Anonymous collective also claims to have stolen 20 terabytes of data from the German arm of Rosneft, Russia's state energy company.

The Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine prompted Western governments to sanction Russia. As a result, numerous IT-related services got blocked or left the Russian market after the invasion began.

According to the United Nations, over 3 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. Due to Russia's artillery attacks on urban areas, thousands of Ukrainian civilians have perished.

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